ITV has been tweaking its online catch up TV service, and has introduced a few improvements for customers viewing video on its website, using Microsoft Silverlight.

ITV video player / Silverlight

The service is going to be rebranded as the 'ITV Player', which is at least a bit more distinctive than 'catch up'. As well as a new name, ITV needs to be improve the usability of its online video, so what difference has Silverlight made to this? 

ITV's catch up service, thanks to the content on offer, has seen an increase in usage this year, with video views up by 600% year on year.

This still lags behind the iPlayer, which has had 237m requests to view videos since launching last Christmas. While it could be argued that the BBC has a better range of content on offer, I think a lot is due to the superior usability of the iPlayer.

The use of Microsoft Siverlight promises to improve this, but first users need to download an update:

ITV Silverlight update

The update offers improvements including an indicator bar to show how much of the video has been played, where the adverts are due to appear, and new icons for volume controls and full screen mode.

More useful is the ability to skip back and forth on videos, which is handy if you missed the end of Coronation Street and need to catch up on the last ten minutes.

You can't skip the ads though, which is understandable as ITV, unlike the BBC needs ad revenues, though some web users may find it annoying that, wherever you choose to start the video you are still compelled to watch a 20 second advert.

All these changes are good, and work reasonably well, though the video can take time to start again after skipping:

ITV video player - waiting to load

The big problem with the ITV video service is the lack of a decent sized player to view the videos in. You still just have the option of a tiny screen, smaller than a YouTube video:

ITV small video player screen

The alternative is the full screen view, but the quality of the picture is so poor that I couldn't watch a full programme this way, though the standard iPlayer in full screen suffers from the same issues.

This is why an in-between screen size option is essential; you can get a decent picture quality in a screen size that is OK for viewing entire programmes, rather than short clips:

iPlayer screen size

The BBC has offered to share the iPlayer technology with ITV and Channel 4, and, unless ITV has some other usability updates planned alongside the rebranding, it would be wise to accept the proposal.

Related articles:
Fight club: BBC Mobile v ITV Mobile's 'catch up TV' overeggs advertising cake

Graham Charlton

Published 12 December, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (9)

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David Hamill

I know Catch up is not as snazzy a name Graeme bit it is actually a lot more useful than ITV Player. Just because it sounds like iPlayer doesn't necessarily make it better.

You see people can't always remember what channel the programme they want to watch is on. 'X Factor Catch up' is what they are likely to search on. Not 'X Factor ITV Player'.

If you talk to enough of your less tech savvy friends you'll come across a good few who still think the iPlayer is something you have to buy from a shop. The same people are unlikely to have the same problem with C4 Watch Online.

On to picture quality. People who prefer to watch in a smaller window do so because they don't want the picture quality to suffer. Making that window bigger when the quality isn't good isn't going to help them.

over 9 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Hi David,

I think the idea behind the rebrand was to link the content to the ITV brand when videos are shown on third party sites, something 'catch up' wouldn't achieve, though I suppose 'ITV catch up' would work...

As for the picture quality, other sites; BBC and Sky Sports to name just two, manage to show content in a larger player than ITV's without a significant loss in picture quality.

For me, the ITV player is just too small for watching anything more than short clips.

over 9 years ago



its just crap

about 9 years ago



wish we could skip adverts its so boring watching them and it confusing it need to be simple and easy like the bbc player!!!!!!


about 9 years ago


web design media

i like the design of this image and previous one ... good coloring .... yeahh!

almost 9 years ago



The BBC iPlayer is still much better

over 8 years ago



You can skip ads on the ITV player by following the instruction on my blog page click my name to see it.

about 8 years ago



please,please let us be able to skip the adverts it should be our choice to fast forward if we wish.I personally loose concentration with adverts and end up switching off or tuning into bbc iplayer because i cant be bothered with the adverts even if that means not watching the full programme.

i think you will have a lot more viewers if you made it optional to view adverts, its really frustrating

almost 7 years ago



I do wish ITV had a download and watch option like BBC's iPlayer

over 5 years ago

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